The Old Man and the Bayesian Sea
6 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2018
Date Written: July 11, 2018
The Old Man and the Sea is a timeless classic. One of Ernest Hemingway’s most famous works, it tells the story of Santiago--a poor, proud, and aging Cuban fisherman--and his epic solitary battle with a giant marlin in the Gulf Stream. In a previous paper (Guerra-Pujol, 2016), we showed that the character of Santiago in Ernest Hemingway’s masterpiece was most likely a composite of three different Cuban fishermen. Here, we shall enter the littoral world of the story itself and explore the logic of Santiago’s “decision calculus”--i.e. his fateful decision to set sail after going 84 days without catching a single fish--through the lens of subjective probability. For in addition to its aesthetic, literary, and moral qualities, Hemingway’s beautiful novella may also offer a hidden tribute to subjective or Bayesian probability.
Keywords: Bayes’ Rule, Hemingway, Santiago, Subjective Probability, The Old Man and the Sea
JEL Classification: B49, D81, Q22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation